Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Recent Foray in Graphic Novels

Twilight, Volume 1 by Stephanie Meyer & Young Kim
Yen Press, 2010
Fantasy; 224 pgs

You know the story. This is the graphic novel version. I confess I was a little leery about reading this one, but my friend insisted. I haven't always been impressed with the results that come with the translation of one form to the other (take Laurel K. Hamilton's Guilty Pleasures, for example). Artist and adapter Young Kim did an amazing job, however. The artwork is beautiful. The story holds true to the original book for the most part, with minor changes here and there for the sake of brevity. Dare I say I liked the graphic novel a bit more than I liked the original version? Volume 1 is the first of three that will retell the story in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight.

Scalped: Indian Country by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guéra
Vertigo, 2007
Crime Fiction; 126 pgs

I have been struggling to find words to describe my thoughts on Scalped: Indian Country. I remember asking my husband if he had any western oriented graphic novels that I might recommend to a friend, and this was the closest he could fine. Of course, I had to read it first. It's not your typical western. The story is set in the present on an Indian Reservation, where corruption and greed rule the day. A hardened man with a chip on his shoulder returns to the reservation he once had run away from, gets into a bar brawl and lands on the police force of the tribal leader/crime boss.

Our anti-hero, Dashiell "Dash" Bad Horse, doesn't waste time busting meth labs, getting into a gun fight, and going after his childhood girlfriend's lovers. In the background is the story of his mother and her own connection with the crime boss. Both had been activists during their younger years, and Dash's mother continues in that vein today. Everyone seems to have a secret, a couple of which we learn in the first volume of this series.

The author knows how to place the punchline to get the fullest effect, while at the same time using it to build more suspense. I wanted to like Scalped, but I did not much care for it. It was dark and gritty, both characteristics I generally like. Maybe I finally met my match. Scalped was a little too dark and gritty for me. It didn't help that I sometimes had trouble figuring out who was who. I doubt I will be following up with the next volume in the series.

Hellblazer: Chas - The Knowledge by Simon Oliver & Goran Sudžuka
Vertigo, 2008
Horror; 128 pgs

Feeling a bit like a failure at reading and enjoying graphic novels after the last one, I was reluctant to start on Chas. My fears were unfounded, however, as I really enjoyed my first experience with the Hellblazer series, even if I started with a stand alone featuring one of the minor characters of the main series. I labeled this one a horror novel, but it really is a combination of horror and mystery. When an evil is unleashed in the city of London, seeking to finish what it had started hundreds of years before, cab driver Chas must pull himself out of his funk and try and stop it. Not only is his friend's son's life at stake, but so is the city.

While the main plot line was interesting, my favorite aspect of the novel was in the details. The artwork in addition to the writing gave the characters depth, in particular Chas. I look forward to reading more by Simon Oliver in the future.

Have you read any graphic novels lately?

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  1. I haven't read that Twilight graphic novel but I did sneak a peek and found the illustrations to be beautiful.

  2. I have read graphic novels lately - I'm just about to write about them all together, just like this one. I'm still not really sure what to make of them. I read American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and Embroideries by Marjane Sartapi. American Born Chinese was just weird and Embroideries was just too short!

  3. I just recently finished Stitches, which was really creepy but in a good way. And I also read one of my daughter's called Smile (review coming tomorrow!). My daughter actually has this version of twilight, but I hadn't read it based on principle! This has been my first experiences with GN, and so far have enjoyed it. It is a genre I definitely want to pursue!

  4. I went through a graphic novel reading spree last year. I read both Persepolis novels, Maus, and Epileptic. I'm not sure how I feel about the genre. All the books do stand out in my memory, but I'm not sure I have the same feeling as I do after reading a traditional text novel. I'm not discarding the genre; I'm just not sure I'm terribly attracted to it.

  5. I'm not sure any of those are for me - I prefer graphic memoirs, but then, I am a memoir junkie.

  6. I have not yet read one graphic novel, though I do have a few on my shelves. I am not sure what's keeping me away! That being said, I think that the graphic novel version of Twilight appeals more to me than the books do, and I might have to give it a try. I have seen it at the bookstore, and next time I am there I might have to grab it! Wonderful mini reviews!

  7. I read a lot of graphic novels over the past couple of weeks, too! I finished Bone (the complete series), I read Shortcomings, Skim and Burma Chronicles, and then "read" The Arrival. They were all good in very different ways, so I'm glad I have a feel for how diverse the genre is.

  8. I just started reading graphic novels a few months ago. My favorite so far has been I Kill Giants. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once.

  9. I'd love to try Hellblazer sometime. I'm glad your first experience with it was positive!

  10. I have the Twilight one on hold at my library and I'm sure that my son will so love Hellblazer!

  11. I've seen the Twilight graphic novel version but just wasn't that interested but now that you say you liked it even better then I'm going to have to check it out! I'm curious to see the illustrations that's for sure.

    Scalped sounds kind of intriguing but I don't know if that might be too gritty for me.

  12. I have my name down for the Twilight one from the library. I am part way through the series by Kaoru Mori called Emma. It's set in Victorian England and features a maid who falls in love with a young gentleman.

  13. Graphic novels are a luxury to me so I'm still hesitating in reading them. But I'm glad you're venturing into them! :D

  14. Melody - I thought they were very well done.

    Clover - I really want to read Embroideries. I loved Persepolis. I am not familiar with American Born Chinese.

    Sandy - I have a copy of Stitches around here somewhere, I think. It's one I've been wanting to read. I am glad you liked it.

    Sarah - Persepolis and Maus are so good! I haven't read Epileptic. I like the occasional graphic novel, but I prefer the traditional text novel too.

    Kathy - The graphic memoirs are my favorite kind.

  15. Heather - I talked my husband out of reading the original Twilight series. He'd been considering it for awhile. I know his brother read it and liked it. I did tell him he might give the graphic novels a try though just to see if he really wanted to read the text-only books. I think you get a good feel for the story through the graphic novels. I don't recommend buying them in hard cover though if aren't sure. Maybe wait for the paperback versions to come out.

    Aarti - My husband got me to read Bone because he really likes that series. The graphic novel genre is just as diverse as the text-only books. It's amazing. I think there's something there for just about everyone.

    Kathleen - I haven't read that one, but I do want to.

    Ana - I was a little worried I might not like Hellblazer, although I'm not sure why. I really did like this one installment. There was much more to it than I expected.

  16. Staci - I'll be curious to know what you think of Twilight when you get to it, Staci.

    Iliana - Maybe you can just flip through a copy of Twilight at the store. :-) I did like it better than the original book, at least so far. I'm not sure hardcore Twilight fans would agree.

    Scalped reminded me of a B movie in a way.

    Marg - I've heard great things about Emma. I hope you are enjoying it, Marg!

    Alice - I understand. They can be quite expensive. My husband collects them so it's easy for me to raid his collection when I'm in the mood for one. :-)

  17. Maybe I could finish up the Twilight series this way. Like the story, but Meyers writing not so much!

  18. Stacy - Haha! I know what you mean. It's not at all a bad idea to read the books in graphic novel form instead. :-)


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